Summary Judgment Entered for Reed Armstrong Client in Head-On Collision Case

In June, 2008, Reed Armstrong obtained a summary judgment in St. Clair County Circuit Court for the defendant in Walker v. Wayne Counton and J.T.C. Petroleum. Reed Armstrong Associate Stephen M. Szewczyk presented the motion. The case involved a head-on collision between a dump truck and an oil truck. The only witnesses to the accident were the drivers of the trucks, the plaintiff and defendant. Defendant, who passed away recently from an unrelated illness, testified in his deposition that plaintiff’s vehicle slid on the rock covered roadway into his lane as it was coming around a curve thereby causing the collision. In contrast, plaintiff testified that defendant’s vehicle slid into his lane. The investigating state trooper testified that the skid marks showed that plaintiff’s vehicle slid into defendant’s lane and that plaintiff was at fault. The defendant argued in his motion for summary judgment that the Dead Man’s Act would preclude the plaintiff from testifying at trial about his version of the accident, so that the only testimony about the accident would come from the trooper. Plaintiff countered that argument by asserting that the skid marks in Defendant’s lane could be interpreted as coming from plaintiff’s vehicle in its attempt to avoid colliding with defendant who had veered into plaintiff’s lane. The plaintiff also argued that, because the trooper never interviewed the plaintiff and because of the existence of photographs, issues of material fact existed so that entry of summary judgment would be inappropriate. Defendant countered that the trooper had testified that the defendant’ vehicle never left its lane and that it was conclusive that plaintiff’s vehicle entered defendant’s lane. Defendant also argued that the mere existence of post-accident photographs did not by themselves create an issue of fact because they were not supported by expert testimony and had never been presented to the court. Defendant also argued that, because they were not presented to the court, the failure to disclose them to the court itself created a presumption against the plaintiff. The court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on all issues.